Congratulations to the 2014 Fields Medal Winners

MaryamMirzakhani
Dr. Mirzakhani’s Fields Medal recognized her work in the relatively young area of dynamics. Photo courtesy of Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani.

This week, the International Mathematical Union awarded their Fields Medal. This is an incredible honor in the world of mathematics, perhaps garnering more prestige than the Nobel Prize, in part because the Fields Medal is only awarded every four years.

Four Fields Medal winners were announced on Wednesday, but the individual garnering the most attention is Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani of Stanford University. Why? Because Dr. Mirzakhani is a woman. A young woman. A young Iranian-born woman.

Read more about Dr. Mirzakhani in this interview with Simons Foundation and Quanta magazine.

A female earning this honor is a first in the Fields Medal awards, and while there’s part of me that says, “It’s about time!,” most of me is focused on how much attention is being brought to her research. She’s being recognized for her work in the field of dynamics.

I’m quite familiar with dynamics, at least in my area of expertise. The word “dynamics” stems from the Greek word dynamikos, meaning “power.” In meteorology, “atmospheric dynamics” is the study of the motions in the atmosphere. From the smallest microclimates to tornadoes to hurricanes.

Dr. Mirzakhani’s work with dynamics in a much more pure sense: She works with dynamics of any and all systems. And not just physical systems. For fear of getting this information wrong, I’m going to point you towards Jordan Ellenberg’s explanation of her research as written at Slate.com earlier this week. It’s a fantastic explanation that I think even non-mathematicians will understand well.

From everyone at GeekMom, congratulations to all of the Fields Medal winners!

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Patricia Vollmer is the proud mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 12 & 14. She serves part time as a meteorologist with the Air Force Reserve and is currently assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which for now is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, sharing her love for Disney and Star Wars, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.